Mark Watson on his new stand-up tour, This Can’t Be It

Virgin Radio

17 Sep 2021, 11:08

Chris Evans and Mark Watson at Virgin Radio

Chris Evans and Mark Watson at Virgin Radio

The comedian joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky to talk about his massive 73-date tour, called This Can’t Be It, which has just kicked-off.

The show is inspired by Mark taking a life-expectancy test using an app on his phone, and discovering he could expect to reach 78, meaning that he’s just over halfway to the finish line. He told Chris: “During the pandemic I was toying with this life-expectancy calculator app, because I couldn’t sleep. It was a stupid thing you sort of do at three in the morning, especially because I was suddenly visited by the fear of death, like you sometimes are in the middle of the night, and the best way to deal with it is just look at football scores, or have a whisky or something, and for some reason, I just Googled, ‘When will I die?’ and this app came up. I don’t recommend that listeners do this by the way, because it puts the fear of god into you, but I got this app, and it gave me 78, so I’m just over halfway through.”

Mark explained that the calculator asks you questions to ascertain how long you can expect to live. He said: “You can guess how you are meant to answer them, so you give yourself a few years where you can, but it’s stuff like, how much you exercise, drink. I was a bit liberal there with the truth. How much fruit and veg you eat, all these questions. It can’t be very scientific!" 

When talking to Chris about the general tone of his comedy, Mark said: “I probably have got quite a lot of my entire comedy career out of pessimism and grumbling, but on the other hand, if you are too miserable, you struggle to do anything. So, for me to be funny, you want me at that midpoint of ‘Things are alright, so I can drive myself to the theatre, but things aren’t too good!’”

When Chris asked Mark about his favourite parts of the new stand-up show, and which he would choose if he were to put some of them in a time capsule, the comedian responded: “There’s a bit where I get the life-expectancy app out on my phone and play it with an audience member to see if I’ll outlive them!” 

However, Mark admitted that his very favourite subject-matter in This Can’t Be It isn’t necessarily the funniest part of the show. He explained: “I talk about my kids a fair bit in this show, and in the past, like most comedians, I’ve just basically made fun of them, or complained about what a nightmare parenting is. In this show, I talk a bit more about what it’s like as they get older, and there is a bit more tenderness to it, and those are probably slightly less funny bits, but to time capsule it, you’d probably want those bits, because that stuff becomes more meaningful as you get older, I think. I should add, the show is still mostly funny!”

Discussing his new show further with Chris, Mark said: “I used to just be about gags, and if there wasn’t a laugh in ten seconds, I’d panic. I don’t even have a support act, it’s all me, so that is enough time to get the audience to trust [you] and maybe take them in different directions and know that you can come back to being funny. But this show is basically about death, and the future, and fear of the future, of the years passing. And you can make a lot of jokes about that, but at some point, you do have to delve into where it comes from, psychologically, as well.”

Continuing, the 41-year-old, who also recently published his most critically acclaimed book to date, entitled Contacts, said: “I am terrified by the idea of death and eternity and all of it, and you just can’t wrap your head around it. And most people, you just get by by never wrapping your head around it, you just get on with life, and I have always filled my life with an enormous amount of stuff. I write books, I write loads of other stuff, I have this company, I tour endlessly. All of it is basically an attempt to escape from my own brain and what’s in it! 

“The trouble is, I’m a stand-up. If I were a painter or something, or had some other slightly more abstract skill, then maybe I just could go off and make a great big sculpture. But as it is, stand-up is talking about the very thing!”

On how doing stand-up can be therapeutic, Mark told Chris: “I’m really lucky to have a job where whatever is in my head, I’m paid to turn that into entertainment. People have said before, it’s a bit like having therapy, except you get paid for it. The flip side is, these days I do have therapy, and I do pay for that, so I’m basically zero! I’m neutral now!” 

The comedian admitted to Chris that he is getting bolder with every tour. He said: “I want them all to be funny… but I know I can do that, so then it’s about how interesting can I also make it? With novels and stuff, you’ve got a reader for however long, 80,000 words, you can literally do anything. On stage, it’s much more constrained, so you have to be brave to get into any kind of depth, but that’s what I’m trying to do.”

For tickets to Mark’s This Can’t Be It Tour visit

For more great interviews listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky, weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.